Volatile, unpredictable and erratic - yet somehow exasperating Portsmouth can still glimpse a way back to the Championship
The last time Pompey ended a campaign at home to Accrington, it was merely jostling for play-off positions.
Kenny Jackett’s side had, of course, already qualified before that May 2019 match at Fratton Park.
Days earlier, Peterborough, Ivan Toney and an offside Viv Solomon-Otabor had shattered aspirations of automatic promotion.
For the final game against Accrington, it was merely a case of settling the identity of the Blues’ play-off opponents.
In that instance, a 1-1 draw booked fourth place – and a semi-final date with Sunderland. Although let’s delve no further into that.
Now, just two years later, Stanley again form the final fixture of a League One season.
Except play-off participation actually hinges on Sunday’s Fratton Park outcome.
The mathematics are wonderfully simple, with victory assuring qualification. Anything else makes matters a little more tricky, albeit not impossible.
Still, a season which has proven the most exasperating of recent times arrives to the point where Pompey’s fate is dictated by the 46th and last league match.
A month into the League One season, Kenny Jackett’s side occupied the relegation places. By Christmas they were top of the table.
After Jackett departed in mid-March, the Blues had plummeted to 10th – their lowest placing in five months.
The Cowleys breezed into Fratton Park to rattle off four straight victories, some of the Fratton faithful were even optimistically declaring an automatic promotion push.
But wait. Defeat at League Two-bound Swindon represented four matches without victory, plunging Pompey into eighth.
Now Cowley’s men are 90 minutes away from facing either Blackpool, Sunderland or Lincoln in the play-off semi-finals.
This infuriatingly unpredictable season has been wildly erratic and dogged by curious contradictions.
The 18-goal striker struggling for form and potency, the skipper and player-of-the-season certainty at Christmas who now struggles to receive a vote.
The left-back few wanted yet become viewed as essential, while the left-back everybody wanted is regarded as surplus to requirements.
And finally the goalkeeper who started the campaign on the bench, only to emerge as one of the Blues’ most outstanding performers.
Nonetheless, despite the volatile nature of the season and inconsistency of the players, there still exists a passage back to the Championship after a nine-year absence.
It has been a strange 2020-21.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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